Within Temptation – The Heart of Everything
20/03/2007 § Leave a comment
After hearing Keith Caputo’s antagonistic vocals on the What Have You Done single I didn’t hold out the best hope for this album. The Heart of Everything, as well as having a questionable title and artwork, seemed to be yet another step into the realm of mainstream success, boosted by Caputo on the warpath and flat-packed Gothic songs. However, The Heart of Everything should certainly be given a chance to be heard in its entirety before we all go screaming for the hills, despairing that it won’t be long before we see WT on the MTV awards doing duets with Eminem and Bullet For My Valentine. The band have clearly not lost an ounce of self-respect in the years that it has taken for them to be successful and though some bands may take the Lacuna Coil approach of chuggy Kornlike guitars to get the teeny Goths frothing at the gashes, WT have taken the line of releasing an album made purely of good songs. As long as you have the right people on board, it seems you don’t have to change your sound that much to retain your old fans while getting new ones at ample opportunity.
The Heart of Everything builds on what The Silent Force already started, apart from the fact that it does it a lot better. The Silent Force, which took many years to be released, seemed to be more a promotional engine running to gather new fans than just the next album in a series. Since it came out WT have been getting stuck into new scenes and crevasses that they wouldn’t have dared dream about in the Enter days. However, though TSF worked for the most part, there were many of us cynical reviewers who, whilst momentarily mourning the older sound, appreciated that TSF wasn’t everything it could have been. It had its ridges and holes, and when one song was masterful, another was unashamedly lifeless.
The Heart Of Everything has patched up these holes nicely since every song on it has its own commendable aspect and it’s hard to believe that a band I thought were going gradually to the dogs, soaked in the nectar of mainstream goodness, have managed to put out an album of songs this fine. Yes it’s hooky, catchy and some snobby fans of progressive metal will turn their noses up at it, but the rest of us will be able to appreciate what WT have done here – make an album of epic poppy goodness with not one dislikeable track. The songs themselves are very much in the vein of The Silent Force apart from the fact that there isn’t such an emphasis on orchestration. You do get the odd violin sound such as in the fantastic Hands of Sorrow, but these aren’t overly loud and obtrusive – they don’t try to make a point and purely provide a great riff over the choruses. Likewise Final Destination, Frozen, The Howling and The Cross are all powerful songs with terrific refrains. Sharon also sounds particularly good in the ballads All I Need and Forgiven, which actually work this time rather than being too token and twee like in earlier releases; the way that Sharon trills over the notes in the latter being particularly emotive.
Some tracks work better than others, The Truth Beneath The Rose being one that didn’t cut it for me. I’ve always thought that if there’s one thing that WT should avoid it’s long songs, and anything over seven minutes is a no-no. Even though it has a good intro and some nice instrumentation, it’s hard for my attention not to wonder half-way through; likewise Our Solemn Hour, with its part-Latin chorus, is a little bit daft and drawn-out. Still, neither of these songs are bad in their own rights and if other more feeble-sounding Gothic rock bands had released tracks like these we’d be saying they were their finest moments, but on an album with so many better tracks, one or two are always going to fade into the background.
Whichever song you may or may not like here is a point of very personal opinion. The Heart Of Everything is an album filled with so many examples of good ways to spend four minutes that what will be a dull song for one person will a total joy for another. And in a way this is the medium in which the album most succeeds. The Silent Force felt a little deflated at times whereas WT have proven now that they not only have what it takes to make one of the best Gothic rock albums I’ve ever heard, but they also manage to offer a kaleidoscope of numbers which every femme and Gothic metal fan should enjoy on some level. After ten years of hard work in the scene and with an established faithful fan base, they truly deserve a peak, and The Heart Of Everything could well be it.